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The past month hasn’t been easy for heiress Lydia Hearst and her husband Chris Hardwick, the embattled TV host and podcaster. The pair have been hard at work, mounting a PR defense against allegations from an ex-girlfriend that he was emotionally and sexually abusive during a three-year relationship.
The allegations, coming in an online essay by actress and TV personality Chloe Dykstra, riled up Hardwick’s Nerdist geek culture and prompted immediate professional fallout for the 46-year-old. All mentions of Hardwick were wiped from the Nerdist Industries website he founded, and AMC said it was delaying release of the second season of his show “Talking with Chris Hardwick.” Hardwick also won’t be moderating panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego July 19-22.
Amid all this scandal, Hearst and Hardwick faced another scare Tuesday: A dramatic 25-acre brush fire broke out in Griffith Park, near their Los Angeles villa.
The fire, first reported just after 2 p.m, shot up towering flames within a few hundred feet of the landmark Griffith Observatory, sent smoke billowing into the skies above downtown Los Angeles and served as a reminder that all of California is facing a potentially perilous fire season.
Model and actress Hearst, the daughter of famous kidnaping victim Patty Hearst, tweeted that she could see the flames from her home. In 2015, the year before they married, Hearst and Hardwick purchased a “historically-recognized” Spanish Colonial-style villa in Los Feliz for $11 million, Variety reported. Their neighborhood in Los Feliz backs up to Griffith Park.
“Griffith Park is in on fire!!!” I can see flames from my house,” tweeted Hearst.
Griffith Park is on fire!!! 😧 I can see the flames from my house. Waiting to find out if we will have to grab Anubis (the cat) and evacuate. Has anyone heard anything about this? Everyone please, stay safe!!!
— Lydia Hearst (@LydiaHearst) July 10, 2018
Hearst, also the great-granddaughter of media titan William Randolph Hearst, added that she wondered if they needed to grab their cat and get ready to evacuate.
Amid light winds, the blaze swept through grass and light vegetation in a steep area of the park. Footage of the fire posted to social media showed Griffith Observatory visitors rushing to move away from the blaze. Firefighters and park rangers evacuated about 2,000 people from around the observatory to get them away from the smoke and to allow fire vehicles to maneuver on the observatory grounds.
Breaking: Firefighters are battling a brush fire in Griffith Park. The fire is zero percent contained and is sending smoke plumes into the Los Angeles area. pic.twitter.com/yEsCnHGDaj
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) July 10, 2018
Via Hearst’s Twitter feed, she continued to get updates about the fire and messages from fans, imploring her and Hardwick to stay safe.
Just remember: THINGS can be replaced, people (you and Chris) and pets (Anubis), CANNOT. Maybe evacuate temporarily anyway? Just for safety’s sake?
— PirateJenni (@PirateJenni13) July 10, 2018
Some fans also used the opportunity to get in a word of support for her and Hardwick amid the Dykstra allegations.
Be safe and give Chris a squeeze for all of us loyal fans. Missing the Podcast.
— Processing… (@_JDtweets) July 10, 2018
About an hour after her first post, Hearst shared a photo of their cat, showing that he — and they — were ready to evacuate, just in case.
He’s all set and ready to go. Just in case… pic.twitter.com/0wdICjiEBl
— Lydia Hearst (@LydiaHearst) July 10, 2018
By 4 p.m., Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted out that the some 200 Los Angeles firefighters, in what the Los Angeles Fire Department called “a well-coordinated air and ground assault,” had stopped the “forward progress” of the fire. By 5:15 p.m., the fire was contained. Garcetti added that no structures had been damaged.
Hearst returned to Twitter to express her relief that the fire “appears to be nearly out!” She also thanked the LAFD, first responders and all volunteers for their “selflessness, hard work, dedication, and courage.” She added, “You are heroes, not just today but every single day.”
Update: Fire containment seems to be going well – It appears to be nearly out! Thank you so much to the @LAFD, first responders, and all volunteers for your selflessness, hard work, dedication, and courage. You are heroes, not just today but every single day ♥️
— Lydia Hearst (@LydiaHearst) July 11, 2018
So, this potential crisis in the lives of Hearst and Hardwick was averted. Meanwhile, the couple continue to work on restoring Hardwick’s reputation and his professional gigs.
AMC Networks called the allegations against Hardwick “troubling”and pulled his show “Talking With Chris Hardwick” from their lineup, while NBC, which produces Hardwick’s game show “The Wall,” said last month that it was “continuing to assess the situation and will take appropriate action based on the outcome,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Hardwick has people backing him up, including an online petition that has so far collected 33,000 signatures and asks AMC, Nerdist and NBC to put him back to work.
Mother-in-law Patty Hearst came out in support of her Hardwick by actually likening his accuser to the sociopathic spurned-woman character Glenn Close played in “Fatal Attraction.” And in late June, Lydia Hearst issued a statement, saying she was “in complete support of my husband” and calling him a “a good man.”
“I have made the decision to come out in support of my husband not out of obligation, but out of necessity to speak the truth about the person I know,” she said in her statement, which was shared with People. “Chris is nothing but loving and compassionate and is the only person who has stood by me, never judged me, helped me heal, and feel whole. … I will not do that. Chris Hardwick is a good man.”
Hearst also voiced her version of support for the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements by saying that both are about the importance of due process and of how the truth should “always win.”
In her essay for Medium.com, Dykstra also cited the #MeToo movement as her reason for coming forward to write about an unnamed podcaster ex-boyfriend who was nearly 20 years her senior and who was “celebrity-obsessed.”
She alleged that the boyfriend, who was quickly identified as Hardwick, subjected her to “long-term” emotional and sexual abuse during the time they dated from 2012 to 2014. She said he alienated her from her friends and expected her to be ready and willing to have sex with him at any time, including when she was feeling ill from an eating disorder she suffered.
In a statement issued soon after Dykstra’s allegations were published, Hardwick denied ever being sexually abusive, saying that their relationship wasn’t perfect and they “shouted at each other.” But, he said, “I loved her and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion.”
Others who have spoken out in Hardwick’s support include actress Andrea Savage, who dated him from 2002 to 2003, and “Thor” actress Jaimie Alexander, who was friends with Hardwick during his breakup from Dykstra.
Alexander, who helped publicize the petition for Hardwick, tweeted: “With the personal knowledge I have regarding this situation I am choosing to follow my heart, my instincts, and support my friend,”
This story has been updated to include information about the online Change.org petition on Hardwick’s behalf.